x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Egypt's top cleric cancels Saudi trip over economy class seats: official

Sheik Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar reportedly disembarked from a Saudi-bound airliner shortly before takeoff after discovering his companions were not seated with him in first class.

CAIRO // Cairo airport officials say Egypt's top Muslim cleric cancelled a visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of its monarch when he discovered that senior delegates travelling with him were assigned economy class seats by their Saudi hosts.

The officials said Sheik Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar - Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning - angrily disembarked from a Saudi-bound airliner shortly before takeoff today and instructed his delegation to follow suit.

Al Tayeb was assigned a first class seat.

The Egyptians were due to perform the minor pilgrimage to Mecca, or umrah, before flying to the Saudi capital Riyadh to attend Monday's award ceremony for the King Faisal International Prize for scientific and religious achievement.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity.